The wait is finally over. The highly anticipated new Disney show “Girl Meets World” will debut Friday night.
The show centers around pre-teen Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard), the daughter of Cory and Topanga Matthews, the couple who grew up together and married on the ‘90s hit, “Boy Meets World.”
Fans of the original series might be curious as to how Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel feel about stepping back into their roles of Cory and Topanga so many years after ‘Boy Meets World’ ended.
“There’s really no thought process behind getting back into playing Topanga,” explains Fishel. “I don’t have to search for her at all, she just lives on the other side of my heart. I just have to turn her on and there she is.”
Savage’s experience resuming the role of Cory was similar, he says, revealing, “It wasn’t hard at all to step back into this because this character has always been an extension of who I am as a person.”
In fact, the whole process is so familiar to Savage that he often has to take a step back and remind himself that this is a different decade and while he’s in the same role, the role has changed significantly. “Every single day I have a moment when I have these little flashbacks where I’ll be talking to [series creator] Michael Jacobs and I’ll immediately slip back to me being 13 years old and I have to remember that I’m now I’m 33 years old and I’m an adult here, not a kid.”
Savage continues on a bit nostalgically, saying, “They say you can’t go home again but this is sort of proving that you can go home again. We’re all revisiting a wonderful chapter in our lives.”
This go-around though Cory and Topanga are no longer the teenagers becoming adults, they’re the parents of 12-year-old Riley and 6-year-old Auggie.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel in real life playing a mom to a teenager, but I really do love it,” admits Fishel. Her experience on “Boy Meets World” prepped her in a unique way to become a mentor to Blanchard. “I was exactly Rowan’s age when I did my first episode so I know firsthand what it’s like to be in her shoes and I think that really helps inform the way that I play her mom.”
Savage, thought for just a second before he confessed, “You know what, it didn’t freak me out or anything when they told me that I was going to be a dad. I don’t have kids right now, but it’s been fun and great practice for me for the future when I’m a dad in real life.”
Back when the original show was on-air, the powers that be were criticized a bit for having the couple marry at such a young age, but now that move seems to have been expertly crafted to provide the perfect set-up for this reboot.
“One of the things that was important to Michael Jacobs was to show that although there is a huge risk with getting married too young, if you’ve found someone that you’ve been with your entire life and you know you love, it’s also risky not to take a chance because you might lose them,” explains Fishel. “Cory and Topanga knew that they were meant to be together and that they were going to make it last, but they also knew that it would complicated. I wouldn’t recommend this path to most people – becoming committed to another person so young — but it worked for these two people.”
Agreeing with his on-screen spouse, Savage says, “I think getting married when they did was the right thing for those two characters. They grew up together, they grew up in love. They spent almost every day together since they were about 5, so by age 20, yes, it was early but it was the right thing for them. Now, with this show, viewers get to watch this young couple, who are now young parents, continue to grow up and try to navigate the rough waters of being a mom and dad to kids that are very much like them when they were young. That’s a challenge every single day.”
Joining main character Riley on her journey are her BFF Maya, her crush Lucas and her wacky friend, Farkle.
Blanchard admits that she’s feels her character is truly the offspring of Cory Matthews as evidenced by a few unmistakable traits that have clearly been passed from generation to generation. “Riley is so awkward and clumsy,” laughs Blanchard. ”In every episode Riley says something that’s just so embarrassingly funny and that’s actually amusing to me, but the thing I really like is that when I watch ‘Boy Meets World’ I see how awkward Cory was at that time and I’m so like that.”
Corey Fogelmanis, who plays Farkle, also watched the original series as well to better understand the furor that this new show has caused. “I can see why it’s still so popular. It’s just a really fun show and it has a lot of heart. We want to be just like that.”
To that end, Fogelmanis also clearly knows his role within the structure of the group. ”Oh I’m smart and all, but I’m definitely the comic relief. I mean, every character is funny in their own way, but I’m a bit over the top sometimes. I use a lot of accents and I try to be flirty and stuff, but it doesn’t really work and that’s where a lot of humor comes into play.”
Riley’s friend and secret crush, Lucas, is played by Peyton Meyer who insists that there really isn’t much acting in the way that the cast relate to each other on-screen. “We all bonded right away and we just love spending time together so there’s no ‘faking it’ or anything like that. I really think people will see that there’s truly a lot of chemistry between everyone. You can’t force that, it just doesn’t work and fortunately it’s been there from day one.”
Portraying Riley’s best friend and confidante, Maya, Sabrina Carpenter is still in shock that this is what she gets to do every day. “I never thought I’d get to be a part of something like this,” she admits. “This set is so full of magic to me. I consider it a real honor to carry on the tradition of such an ironic show as ‘Boy Meets World.”
Even though all involved are enjoying the excitement surrounding this new incarnation of the hit show, the sense of obligation to appease long-time fans of the original series is not lost on any of the cast.
“The number one thing I want people to know right now,” Fishel emphasizes,” is that for those fans that are coming back to this because of the way that they felt about ‘Boy Meets World,’ please remember that this is still a brand new show and it’s the first season. It’s going to be amazing and funny and all of those things, but there are still going to be growing pains. So, just give us a chance. Don’t watch one episode and rant, saying ‘It’s not what I was expecting’ or something like that. “Boy Meets World” wasn’t what it was in season seven right out of the gate in season one. Just give it a chance.”
Savage echoed her sentiments adding,” We realize that we have an incredible responsibility here. I know that we have a lot of fans from ‘Boy Meets World’ that are skeptical or worried that this show isn’t going to live up to that show or maybe it’s going to hurt the legacy of ‘Boy Meets World.’ To those people I’d like them to know that there’s a lot of heart, a lot of soul and a lot of time and energy being spent on this to make sure that it’s something that we’re proud of, that the fans will be proud of. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that this show will please everyone who grew up watching ‘Boy Meets World.”
Even the young lead of the show feels the same with Blanchard adding, “I think a lot of ‘Boy Meets World’ fans are scared to see this show, but they have to realize that this is its own show. It’s very authentic. I think we’ll get two generations of fans watching this and that’s very cool.”
The adventures of the Matthews family begin Friday night as “Girl Meets World” premieres at 9:45e/8:45c pm on Disney Channel.